TUE AM News: GOP proposal would create tax credits for film production companies; First round of ag road improvement funding available

— A new GOP legislative proposal would grant up to $5 million a year in tax credits for film production companies. 

The bill would also create a State Film Office, attached to the Department of Tourism, to oversee the program, which would allow credits such as up to 25% of the salary or wages paid to employees during the year with some limitations. 

Reps. David Armstrong of Rice Lake and Calvin Callahan of Tomahawk and Sen. Julian Bradley of Franklin recently circulated a co-sponsorship memo on the legislation. Wisconsin is one of five states with no film office or commission and one of ten without production incentives, according to the memo. 

“Without production incentives and a state film office to market Wisconsin, we’re leaving money on the table,” they wrote. 

GOP lawmakers in 2013 eliminated a similar program that had existed for almost eight years. Then-Gov. Jim Doyle capped grants at $500,000 and tried to kill the program in 2009, but was rebuffed. An audit by the then-Commerce Department found the 2009 film “Public Enemies” received $4.6 million in tax credits while generating only $5 million in economic activity in Wisconsin.

The lawmakers note other Midwest states including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Minnesota are investing in film, TV and advertising industries, “attracting significant outside investment by offering meaningful state production incentives.” 

Their bill would establish minimum spending requirements for the credits, ensuring part of the production budget is spent within Wisconsin, the memo shows. 

Production companies would be able to claim an income and franchise tax credit equal to 25% of qualifying production expenditures, and the state would issue a refund if the total amount of credits exceeds its tax liability, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau. And they could claim a credit for the first three taxable years of doing business in Wisconsin equal to 25% of certain property purchases. 

The bill also includes provisions requiring the State Film Office to annually report to lawmakers on the tax credit program, and directing the Legislative Audit Bureau to audit the program on a biennial basis. 

See the memo.

— State officials are now taking applications for the first round of funding from the Agricultural Road Improvement Program, which will provide $150 million for qualifying projects. 

The program was created last year and funded through the latest state budget, offering funding for efforts to improve local roads used by farmers and loggers, according to a release. 

Advocates for the agriculture and timber industries, local government officials and the state Department of Transportation yesterday held a press conference to tout the program and urge stakeholders to seek funding, the release shows. 

Applicants’ projects will be evaluated for economic impact, access to farmland or facilities and cost reductions for farmers.

See more details in the release.

— A Madison-based startup called RehabPath has spent $1 million to acquire the domain name Recovery.com for its mental health and addiction treatment platform. 

CEO Ben Camp says the company he co-founded in 2017 had “outgrown” the name RehabPath for its online service. 

“When people hear the word ‘rehab’ they tend to think of a residential stay for addiction treatment,” he said in a statement. “But for a long time now we’ve helped people looking for all types of mental health treatment at various levels along the continuum of care, and our company’s mission involves helping people through every step of their recovery journey.” 

Camp notes most people seeking mental health care start their search online, and the startup team has been “building and refining” its independent listing service to make it easier for users to find treatment. The company says it connects about 200,000 people with treatment centers each year. 

“Recovery.com is an inclusive, memorable and optimistic name that lends instant credibility and trust to these efforts,” he said. “When we were presented with the opportunity to purchase this domain name, I knew it would be a multiplier on the work our team is doing and the investments we’ve already made.”

Recovery.com now includes more than 100,000 different programs from 3,400 centers in 50 countries, according to today’s announcement. They’re meant to help people with depression, substance use disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions. 

Listen to an earlier podcast with Camp, and see the release

For more of the most relevant health care news, reports on groundbreaking research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics and WisBusiness.com.

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— Scott Beightol, a partner at the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, has been appointed chair of the Water Council’s board of directors. 

The Milwaukee-based water industry organization yesterday announced Beightol will succeed Jim Stern, executive vice president at A. O. Smith Corporation. 

Water Council President and CEO Dean Amhaus says Beightol is the right person to build on the momentum established under Stern’s tenure. 

“We’re excited to see where he takes The Water Council in the next few years,” Amhaus said in a statement. 

Beightol, industry group chair for water for Michael Best, was elected to the board in 2018. The Milwaukee-based law firm serves as the Water Council’s general counsel, according to yesterday’s release. 

See the announcement, and listen to a podcast on the Water Council. 

— The Wisconsin Technology Council later this month will share a preliminary look at 2023 investment activity in the state during an event in Madison. 

The Feb. 27 event will include insights from Tech Council Investor Networks director Joe Kremer, who will share a preview of the group’s 2024 “Wisconsin Portfolio” early-stage investing report. 

Tech Council President Tom Still says attendees will “hear about tech-based sectors that are more promising than others, deal stages that are right for the time and other factors influencing if, when and how much investors are risking in today’s climate.” 

The luncheon will also feature a panel discussion with Maggie Brickerman, partner at gener8tor; Laura Hilty, principal with HealthX Ventures; and John Neis, managing director of Venture Investors.

See event details and register here

See more on 2023 investment activity in Wisconsin, and see the Tech Council’s report from last year.

Wisconsin students making progress after pandemic achievement losses 

Appleton’s historic wool mill to close after 144 years in business as owner retires 

After online success, two sisters put fear aside to launch bakery, restaurant in Green Bay



– Herd additions are risky: How to mitigate biosecurity risk 


– Delayed by COVID, affordable housing development breaks ground 

– FPC Live will break ground on Milwaukee music venue in the spring 

– Carmex maker Carma Laboratories preps to finish new Franklin headquarters this year 


– Extension’s Rural Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Initiative offers multiple ways to engage 

– Picnic Point’s new education center will be ‘living building’ 


– Winter can uncover signs of emerald ash borer 


– Wisconsin scientists are leading a large-scale study of Alzheimer’s disease. Here’s what they hope to learn.  


– Milwaukee nonprofit Independence First sues alleged fake company for trademark infiltration 

– Ashwaubenon company faces $194K fine after employee’s fingertip amputated


– Household goods manufacturer leases space in Mequon 


– ‘Mom & Dad’s Nipple Factory’ tells touching story of Eau Claire family 

– TMJ4 reporter among several high-profile hires as WTMJ-AM debuts 5 new shows 


– Newly-constructed Menomonee Falls industrial building is 100% leased 

– Northwest side ‘tiny homes’ vet housing project takes big step forward


– WI urges more funding for state meat inspection 


– Wisconsin Assembly bill would cap home bakers’ revenue at $20K 


– Mardi Gras treats, from king cake to paczki, let the good times roll 


– Milwaukee airport adds service for spring break. Here’s where. 


– Viewpoints: Comparing the 2024 Super Bowl ads to snack foods 


See these and other press releases 

The Water Council: Scott Beightol of Michael Best to Lead The Water Council Board

Lawrence University: Björklunden seminars explore range of topics along Lake Michigan shoreline in Door County